It’s becoming apparent that macrobiotics is the healthiest approach to diet and lifestyle. I’ve spent the past 43 years developing and refining the best possible ways to achieve the maximum benefits from this way of eating and living. A student of mine once said that no one can dispute that the practice of yoga is more than just a physical practice around movement and stretching. Yoga is based around a core of spiritual beliefs that guide the practice. The same can be said about macrobiotics. The development and cultivation of a deep sense of appreciation for food and all of life guides and completes the practice. In a practical sense, we emphasize an orderly and structured approach to eating and living.
The most important aspect of these practices grows from a desire to be healthy. The approach that we take helps people rediscover their natural appetite that leads to lasting health. We stress eating habits as much as food choices so we can experience deeper satisfaction from our meals and greater enjoyment of our food. I’ve compiled this list of things to keep in mind to move you in the direction of health. Use this guide as a primer for planning anything from meals, to menus, to outlining goals for transforming your lifestyle practices.
—good eating habits lead to healthier food choices and greater satisfaction
—orderliness and regularity with our eating habits leads to an increase in openness and variety
—balance perpetuates itself
—our sense of balance comes from aligning with nature’s orderly cycles
—indigenous and local foods create the strongest connection to the environment
—format meals around grains, beans, vegetables, and local, seasonal fruits at home or away
—have vegetable soup with one meal every day
—emphasize life-related activities (such as walking outside, cleaning, or taking the stairs)
—surround yourself with green plants in rooms where you spend time
—create a strong and nurturing support network
6 Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Adjusting Your Diet, Anti-aging, diet and health, digestion, Eating habits, Environment, Exercise, healthy eating, healthy living, Macrobiotic Counseling, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics, Neal Barnard, Plant based diet, plant-based diet, Weight loss, whole-foods
This list from U.S. News & World Report ranked what they consider the healthiest overall diets. The diets were ranked using the following standards: short-term weight loss, long-term weight loss, diabetes management, heart health management, ease of compliance, nutritional completeness, and safety/health risks. Macrobiotics ranked 26th out of 35 on the list among others such as the flexitarian, vegan, Atkins, and Mediterranean, to name a few. Criticisms about the macrobiotic diet were all cloaked in the many myths that surround this way of eating and living. I believe that now is a good time to look at some of the myths regarding the practice of macrobiotics.
Macrobiotics should be rated as number one because of the substantial benefits gained in the areas of short/long term weight loss, diabetes management, heart health, and nutritional completeness. In addition, there are marked improvements in physical vitality, mental alertness, an increased sense of gratitude, as well as anti-aging effects. Macrobiotics has never been more timely a choice given the rapid increase in obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other degenerative illness. A common perception is that macrobiotics is a restrictive and highly rigid way of eating. However, the practice itself is the most flexible and varied way of eating that can be adapted and integrated into the life of any person.
Macrobiotics is the oldest, yet simultaneously most progressive way of eating because it is based on the dietary patterns of the world’s longest standing civilizations. Meals are based around the selection and preparation of grains, beans, vegetables, soups, naturally pickled and fermented foods, and mild beverages. A variety of other plant-based foods can also be included such as nuts, seeds, fruits, and natural sweeteners. While the majority of the practice is vegan, some also choose to include fish or other animal foods. Within these “food groups,” there is endless possibility for varying and combining flavors, using different cooking styles, and working within one’s particular climate. Macrobiotics is often hard to understand because the lifestyle puts as much emphasis on how we eat. We also emphasize other lifestyle practices (such as walking outside and developing a deep sense of appreciation for life) that goes far beyond the scope of modern definitions of diet.
Furthermore, our approach places emphasis on what you add and do, not on what you take away or don’t do. There is no end to adding, you can always discover a new cuisine, or vegetable, or way to prepare a grain. Adding leads to more openness, variety, and flexibility. You can start out simply by eating one meal with a macrobiotic format every week. A part time practitioner will still derive beneficial effects. These principles can be practiced at home or at restaurants. In addition, if you don’t want to change food choices right away, you can begin with altering your lifestyle practices. Increasing healthy activity also increases a taste for healthy foods. Because health is a direction and not a fixed state, healthy foods and activities create cravings for other healthy foods and activities. As we move closer to health, unhealthier foods and lifestyle practices naturally fade away.
Originally, macrobiotics centered around a Japanese style of cuisine. Although many of these foods and cooking styles are still included, we have opened up macrobiotic practice to include foods and cuisines from around the world. Now we can enjoy the full range of the unique dishes and cooking styles that have been developed and passed down from all the world’s cultures. Combining macrobiotic principles of preparation with these dishes and cuisines transforms foods into deeply nourishing, enjoyable meals. By adding more variety and flexibility to the preparations of meals and individual food choices, macrobiotic cuisine is potentially the healthiest way a person can eat.
The book “The Complete Macrobiotic Diet” demonstrates a comprehensive approach to health that combines diet and eating habits with healthy lifestyle practices. The recommendations that are common practices in the macrobiotic lifestyle are continuously becoming validated by science. For a long time, macrobiotic practice has been perceived as the cancer recovery diet, when it is actually an orderly approach to life and eating that allows us to attain the highest degree of health. It is the best way of eating for all aspects of life, from pregnancy to old age.
It is my belief that if U.S. News had accurate knowledge about our approach to macrobiotic practice, it would score number one. Hopefully one day, diet and health can be measured by the seven steps that I’ve outlined in my book more than seven physical indicators of health and resistance to illness.
For more information about the macrobiotic principles that guide the practice, visit the webpage for The Strengthening Health Institute.
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I was recently interviewed for a Pilates Glossy in The Netherlands. Thank you Marjolein van Sonsbeek, for reaching out over the ocean and sharing macrobiotics with your audience.
Here is the transcript of the interview:
The Strengthening Health Institute is a 501 c3 non-profit educational center based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the SHI, we offer educational courses for both personal study and professional training with our unique approach to macrobiotics. I also have a personal counseling practice in both Philadelphia and New York City, and recently online via Skype. My ability is to do what medicine can’t and I help many people with serious illnesses recover and create lasting health. I also counsel healthy people to live long, productive, healthy lives.
I do not really consider macrobiotic practice to be a set of rules to follow. Rather, we do have guidelines that we can use to create an orderly approach to life. These guidelines help us make healthy choices in diet, activity, and lifestyle practices. When I was younger, George Ohsawa’s message about personally creating the health and life that you want started me on the macrobiotic path. His message was dramatically different from trying to fit yourself into a mold.
Before I became macrobiotic, I was not a happy camper. I found no satisfaction from food or life. Now I wake up each day wondering about what I can do, what I can learn, what I can discover; how I can live more and more fully each day.
I have been practicing for forty-five years now. My life is now more about making conscious choices about how I want to live and being more aware of how my choices impact my family, society, and the environment.
There are certain changes in lifestyle that may be perceived of as difficult, such as buying food and finding somewhere for dining out, which requires a bit more forethought. These considerations are a deterrent for some. But overall, I find many peoples’ attitude towards macrobiotics and lack of acceptance (or the unwillingness to give the practice a chance) to be the most challenging thing as a practitioner. Even though macrobiotics is the longest-standing way of eating and lifestyle practice, it is also still the most progressive at the same time.
My life style is primarily plant-based, but I occasionally eat fish, and wear leather shoes and belts. Considerations such as quality and sustainability always factor into any decision.
Originally, my inspiration was to seek a more meaningful life. I did not want to go to Vietnam, so I began reading from various authors (such as Herman Hesse and Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi”). All of the practices and philosophies however, said that a teacher or mentor was necessary and I did not have a relationship with one, and had no way of finding one. Yet, George Ohsawa taught that we as individuals could create our own health and happiness as well as provided the guidelines to make that possible. That was a revelation for me.
I try to base all of my meals around grains and vegetables with a variety of local and indigenous foods. The most substantial meal of the day is lunch, which is more grain and vegetable based, and dinner is a lighter meal, usually with more Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, or Mexican influence. My practice is dynamic and has evolved over the years, and is usually based on the needs of our clients and students. My practice has expanded to include more choices and varieties of cuisines. My experience and observation is that eating healthy food becomes more and more satisfying over time.
I still weight the same as I had when I was 16, and I am still relatively flexible. I find that as I age, my thinking has become more clear and open as the years go on, which is in contrast to the idea that as we age, our minds deteriorate.
My view on macrobiotics is that it is the practice of expressing and living the spirit of gratitude and having an endless appreciation for all of life. The spirit of Macrobiotics is based on Nature’s model; one grain naturally produces 10,000. In practice, I find it to be the most embracing and open way of life. This is why I have dedicated my life to exploring and sharing the spirit of macrobiotics since I was nineteen years old.
Originally, macrobiotics appealed to hippies, who helped develop the practice. I believe though that the practice appeals to innovators. In the 60s, macrobiotics became more widely available in the West through the work of the author, William Dufty, who translated “You Are All Sanpaku” and authored “Lady Sings the Blues”. Historically, some of the world’s most prolific contributors were primarily grain and vegetable eaters, from Ben Franklin to Albert Einstein. Macrobiotics appeals to young people and to those on the cutting edge of their fields: be they scientists, musicians, architects, etc.
Some individuals experience uncomfortable transitional symptoms when they begin to detox. Yet others feel really good from day one.
I offer lectures and courses around Philadelphia. We also offer all of our courses at The Strengthening Health Institute online. I have also taught throughout the United States, Eastern and Western Europe, the UK, Scandinavia, as well as in parts of Asia, mostly in Japan and Taiwan.
I study macrobiotics everyday; it is a never-ending exploration. Lately, I am excited about the recent, large-scale acceptance of the important relationship between individual food choices and overall health, even if there are no unanimous agreements on which approach is the healthiest. Scientific research has, for some years now, slowly been validating the major premises and lifestyle practices of macrobiotics. Now, I see the potential that macrobiotics has with verifying trends to current nutritional scientific theories.
I was never one much for sports, but I was a gymnast as a teenager. Now I find Yoga to be a good complement to my lifestyle and activities.
I have not had the experience of Pilates yet.
My dream has always been to create and experience large-scale social change. I have been working to share and bring into the mainstream our Strengthening Health Approach to macrobiotic practice because it is open and flexible and can be combined with other approaches to a plant-based lifestyle.
I believe that the combination of our knowledge and understanding of history and tradition together with science can develop into a medicine for the future. I’m currently working on making macrobiotic education available online to more people and trying to establish networks with like-minded, interesting individuals and groups who are constantly looking to play the game of health.
I wrote “The Great Life Diet” as the handbook for our style of macrobiotic practice. My wife, Susan, and I have recently updated and expanded the book to twice the length of the original. “The Complete Macrobiotic Diet” Is available online and at retail bookstores countrywide; it includes the spiritual philosophy underlying the practice as well as recipes and menu plans developed by Susan. Our hope is that “The Complete Macrobiotic Diet” helps to change the image and perception of macrobiotic practice so that it is more acceptable for the modern audience. We are very happy to have received endorsements from T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Neal Barnard (founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), two forerunners in the medical field who have dedicated much of their career to promoting the benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet.
I recently read an article in the New York Times about a study in San Diego that researchers conducted on mice. In the study, they restricted some mice to certain eating times; some mice were fed within a five hour window, some an eight hour window and some a twelve hour window. Others were allowed to feed at all times in a twenty four hour period. The mice whose feeding times were restricted had a healthier metabolism than those who could eat any time. Many of the mice who ate at all times of the day began to develop illness and degenerative diseases. Furthermore, when the sickly mice were restricted to regulated eating windows, some of their symptoms actually began to disappear, and their health began to improve. The study concluded that to maintain overall health and weight, eating all daily food within a certain time frame lowered the risks of disease. Results were consistent even if the food was not the healthiest.
This article is an example of how both experience and observation make scientific inquiry more meaningful for our lives. Furthermore, there are studies currently being conducted that validate what many have always known. Yet, the article did not mention another very important practice that regulates metabolism, and that is the times of the day in which we take our meals. Mealtimes have more effect on our circadian rhythms than dark and light cycles. In fact, mealtimes actually regulate our sleeping and rising times. Most people recognize that eating and drinking before going to sleep interferes with our sleep and our ability to wake up refreshed and clear in the morning. Even if you don’t want to change the content of your food, simply eating regularly at certain times has a substantial health benefit.
Because our digestion is most active at certain times of the day, we can optimize our metabolism by eating during these times. I’d like to invite you to conduct a similar study on yourself. Try to observe how eating at certain times of the day impacts the way you feel, the energy you have, and your ability to fall asleep. To get the full benefits, try to minimize snacking between meals. Most people will start to notice changes after the third day, so if you’re casually interested, try for three days. If you’re more serious, give this a try for two or three weeks.
-Jumpstart your metabolism each day by having breakfast by 8.30 a.m.
-Start eating lunch before 1 p.m.
-Observe the differences between sitting down to lunch before 1 p.m., and sitting down to lunch before 2 or 3 p.m.
-One day have dinner between 5 and 6 p.m., one day between 7 and 8 p.m. and one day after 9 p.m.
Think of an older, vital, and active person in your life, and ask about their mealtimes. Our digestion is more active earlier in the evening. The longer we wait to have dinner, the longer it takes for the food to digest. This article was evidence to me of how scientists are beginning to verify human experience and common sense about health. I would like to emphasize that we can regulate our metabolism through mealtimes, and there is a major benefit to eating meals at consistent times. Many common issues including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity can actually be reversed through dietary and lifestyle practices. For more details and guidance, check out this interview in Philadelphia Weekly.
On December 28th around 8 p.m., Susan and I were in a restaurant having dinner with some friends. There was a call on my cell phone from Norio Kushi. Norio and I have been close friends for many years. He wanted to let me know personally that his father had passed away that morning. He wanted to give me the details before the news went public. Knowing this day would come did not lessen the shock.
Michio and Aveline Kushi were my spiritual parents. They invited me into their family shortly after we met. Even though I am dedicating this memorial to Michio, it is difficult for me to think of and remember him without also appreciating and acknowledging Aveline.
I met Michio in February, 1969 when he came to lecture in Philadelphia before we opened our store, Essene. I got to the lecture early simply so I could ask him a question. I told him I was opening a macrobiotic store, and asked him if he had any advice for me. His words were: “Keep it clean. If it isn’t clean, it isn’t macrobiotic.” These words stuck with me forever, and I think his words were one of the keys to our success. The same effort we put into keeping the store spotless, we put into the quality of our food and the quality of service to our customers.
At 19, I was lost and confused, and had no idea about how I wanted to live my life. The one thing I knew for certain was that I didn’t want to follow in the suggested path set by society. I had recently read George Ohsawa’s books that talked about a brighter future and how we could create our health and happiness, but I needed more. At the lectures, Michio spoke of everything under the sun, from the meaning of life, to how to cure cancer, to world peace. One, peaceful world was the central theme to Michio’s message. He taught that world peace can only be achieved through healthy people.
On the second day of Michio’s lectures in Philadelphia, I was invited to the home of Rod and Peggy House with about twenty others. At this gathering, Michio said that he didn’t want many friends. The statement startled me. Michio followed by saying he only wanted just a handful of friends who could really understand this way, and together we could change the world. At that moment, I knew I wanted to be one of those friends. Meeting Michio changed my life.
He had an amazing and indomitable spirit. In the early 70s, when I tried to expand the Essene distribution company too quickly, we ran into serious financial difficulties. As we were walking out the door on the way to a lecture, Michio paused and told me not to worry. He said that even if I lost everything, we would simply start again from my own home. This struck me deeply yet again, and demonstrated to me how clear and penetrating Michio’s insight and advice was in all areas of life. Incidentally, we were able to reach a settlement, close the distribution company, and save the store.
No one could keep up with Michio; he was relentless in the pursuit of his dream to change this world. He often talked about lighting fires as he endlessly travelled the world to inspire people and ignite them into action. Michio taught me that anything was possible and I always admired his vitality. His endless spirit continues to inspire my life and my own approach to healing. “The Book of Macrobiotics” largely sums up the heart of his teachings. I wanted to move to Boston to study with Michio, but Essene, being in Philadelphia, kept me there.
I went back and forth between Boston and Philadelphia to continue my studies and maintain my connection with Michio. Michio popularized study houses, which were houses run by individuals or couples where we could live, practice, and study together. The study houses made macrobiotic education both affordable and practical. I attended Michio’s leadership seminar for two months in 1973. In addition, I stayed at different study houses for two weeks twice a year. I also attended every new seminar that Michio created and sponsored his visits to Philadelphia. Through these regular visits, my friendship and mentorship with Aveline began to grow and became a crucial part of my life. During this time, it became apparent to me how Aveline was both a powerful stabilizing factor for Michio as well as a driving force for the entire macrobiotic movement.
In 1981, during my twelfth year of practice, Michio asked me if I ever doubted macrobiotics. When I replied “No,” he told me that now I could change the entire world. I was very blessed to have met Michio at such a young stage of my life. He told me on a few occasions that he was born too early to see the fruits of his labors, but that I would, and I took that to heart. He also told me that the macrobiotic movement would follow the development of this country, where the ideas started in Boston, but were enacted in Philadelphia. This is also part of the reason why I have chosen to remain in Philadelphia.
Michio had a powerful psychic ability that he used in his counseling. He had an amazing ability to see not only people’s specific health, but even certain foods they had eaten on certain days. I was often self-conscious that he would be able to tell I had been eating something he may not have approved of. His long term predictions were amazingly accurate. He painted a picture for society more than forty years ago that I would say that today, are precise. He saw in the 60s that we would continue down a path towards increasing degenerative illness, social unrest, over medication, and the further destruction of the environment. The vast scope of his teachings demonstrated very clearly the relationships and connections between diet, health, environment, and spiritual development.
The last time I saw Michio was August 3rd, 2013 at the Kushi Summer Conference in New Jersey. Michio scolded me among my peers for recommending sardines to a shared client. He asked me if I could help the client with plant-based recommendations alone, and if I was following up regularly to tell them to stop the sardines when they were no longer needed. The scolding was relentless and beyond intimidating and I did my best to remain calm and stand by my recommendations. I finally said “You know, Michio, that not everyone practices the way we like them to,” and that changed the tone. There was a running joke among the teachers about sardines for the rest of the conference. It was an experience that I am sure I will ponder for the rest of my life.
The last time I spoke with Michio was this past October. I called him just before Susan and I left for the teachers’ meeting in Lisbon to ask him if he had any messages for the group. He asked me to give his and his wife’s, Midori, regards and he hoped that everyone would study well together. These were the last words we exchanged. I always called on January 3rd or 4th to wish him and his family a happy new year, so I was very glad to have called him then. Otherwise, we would not have spoken.
There was no stone he left unturned regarding the education about all of health and all of life. Michio had a powerful presence and magnetism; people wanted to be around him. He had an amazing ability to inspire people and encourage them to pursue their dreams. People would travel great distances just to see him, and would also pay large sums of money for his counsel and guidance. He constantly tried to help people see and realize their full potential in both health and life.
It is my hope that the depth and scope of Michio’s contributions will be more fully understood. Before Michio, there was no natural foods movement because there were practically no natural foods. He encouraged the development of local, natural food producers and processors, food stores, restaurants, educational, publishing, and distribution centers. High-quality, natural foods as well as pickled and fermented foods are now widely available and sought after. He was largely responsible for introducing futons, the practice of acupuncture, shiatsu massage and making the work of Masanobu Fukuoka (the author of “One Straw Revolution”) known. His teachings have influenced people from all walks of life, across the entire range of professional and artistic fields.
We are on the cusp of a nutritional and biological revolution which is laying the groundwork for the age of macrobiotics. The future of macrobiotics is with those who can understand, reinterpret, and express the teachings of Michio, Aveline, and their associates for our times. Now that both Michio and Aveline have passed, I find it more important than ever to dedicate the next part of my life to mentoring the new generation of macrobiotic teachers and leaders. I want to align with those who are like-minded so that our combined expression conveys the attractiveness and timeliness of the spirit and teachings of macrobiotics.
It is hard to express the loss and sadness of Michio’s passing. I find it unfortunate that his work is not more widely acknowledged and recognized today, despite how many lives have been transformed by his life. However, I feel that recognition of Michio’s contributions to society will continue to grow, as will his memory. It is my hope that we as his students and associates can bring honor to the teachings that he and Aveline gave to us.
There will be a memorial service followed by a reception in Boston on January 31, 2015 to honor and celebrate Michio Kushi.
I wanted to address some of the points made in an article from The Guardian. The article states that detox itself is a myth and that there is little we can do to aid in the process of eliminating toxins. I agree that there is no one solve-all detox method. I’d like to bring some understanding and clarity to this whole process. Detox is a very real thing that we perform all of the time. Detox is a natural part of a healthy life; it is the ability to let go and release the physical, energetic, and emotional excess we’ve gathered throughout the day and over time. It is a similar process to cleaning a room; we tidy today’s mess, but we also clean the mess that builds up over time. Detox is more than what goes into our body, it is also about what we can not release. The ability to consistently and rhythmically gather, process, and release excess is the way I define a healthy metabolism. We regulate metabolism through mealtimes and food choices. Eating consistently at regular times and basing our meals around grains, beans, and vegetables allows us to create a healthy metabolism. Our metabolism is further strengthened by sitting down to eat our meals, thoroughly chewing, and also by walking, cleaning, and other natural activities. During the day, we are active and taking physical nourishment. At night, our bodies utilize the foods we’ve eaten during the day to maintain, repair, and gather the excesses for elimination. Early to bed and early to rise are they keys to creating a healthy metabolism, ideally sleeping before midnight and waking no later than 7 a.m. Sources of toxins The process of detox Our kidneys and intestines, liver, lungs, and skin are all part of the detox process. In order to eliminate, our body needs to localize excess first, in various areas of the body. The most healthy and efficient way of eliminating excess is through our kidneys and intestines. If there is excess that can not be be completely eliminated through the kidneys and intestines, the lungs and skin assist the detox process. The liver breaks down and metabolizes fats, as well as neutralizes both toxins and acidity. Detox is further aided through natural outdoor activity, expression, and even thought. With a positive mind, the ability to gather and eliminate excess increases. When we are depressed and closed off, there is a higher chance of stagnation and gathering of excess into toxins. This is why there can be no one method for detox, because the process is comprehensive and related to our entire diet, lifestyle and outlook. The body is constantly trying to create order, to clean, and renew itself. Healthy dietary and lifestyle habits contribute to a more efficient detox process. I’ve found that the causes of many illnesses are from what we are unable to release. The 7 steps explained in “The Complete Macrobiotic Diet” are designed around the daily practices we can adopt for healthy nourishment and elimination. The combination of our food choices, eating habits (such as sitting down to eat and specific mealtimes), integrated life activity, and the body rub, detox occurs naturally with little to no forethought. Detox can be aided through different types of internal and external home remedies. However, remedies must be combined with diet and lifestyle habits to be effective in the detox process. Detox remedies can not replace or substitute for good diet and lifestyle practices.
-Environmental pollutants. The most common in today’s environments are heavy metals, industrial pollutants, plastics, and some forms of radiation.
-Food choices. There are always parts in foods that our body doesn’t use in the digestive process. Even the healthiest food will have some waste that must be eliminated. Poor quality (refined and processed), and more excessive foods (animal, dairy, and added sugars), leave behind more harmful byproducts for elimination.
-Poor digestion. The combination of eating habits and food choices may contribute to poor or sluggish digestion. Foods lacking fiber and overeating often stagnate the digestive system. There is physical limit to how much our digestive system can process. A weaker digestive system has more difficulty breaking down foods and absorbing available nutrition. This often leads to a lack of satisfaction and overeating. The later we eat a meal, the longer it takes for our body to digest the same amount of food, and with each hour, digestion becomes more sluggish. When we eat within three hours of falling asleep, we don’t have enough time to digest the foods, and while horizontal, digestion slows even more, which also causes foods to putrefy.
I wanted to address some of the points made in an article from The Guardian. The article states that detox itself is a myth and that there is little we can do to aid in the process of eliminating toxins. I agree that there is no one solve-all detox method. I’d like to bring some understanding and clarity to this whole process. Detox is a very real thing that we perform all of the time.
Detox is a natural part of a healthy life; it is the ability to let go and release the physical, energetic, and emotional excess we’ve gathered throughout the day and over time. It is a similar process to cleaning a room; we tidy today’s mess, but we also clean the mess that builds up over time. Detox is more than what goes into our body, it is also about what we can not release. The ability to consistently and rhythmically gather, process, and release excess is the way I define a healthy metabolism.
We regulate metabolism through mealtimes and food choices. Eating consistently at regular times and basing our meals around grains, beans, and vegetables allows us to create a healthy metabolism. Our metabolism is further strengthened by sitting down to eat our meals, thoroughly chewing, and also by walking, cleaning, and other natural activities.
During the day, we are active and taking physical nourishment. At night, our bodies utilize the foods we’ve eaten during the day to maintain, repair, and gather the excesses for elimination. Early to bed and early to rise are they keys to creating a healthy metabolism, ideally sleeping before midnight and waking no later than 7 a.m.
Sources of toxins
The process of detox
Our kidneys and intestines, liver, lungs, and skin are all part of the detox process. In order to eliminate, our body needs to localize excess first, in various areas of the body. The most healthy and efficient way of eliminating excess is through our kidneys and intestines. If there is excess that can not be be completely eliminated through the kidneys and intestines, the lungs and skin assist the detox process. The liver breaks down and metabolizes fats, as well as neutralizes both toxins and acidity. Detox is further aided through natural outdoor activity, expression, and even thought. With a positive mind, the ability to gather and eliminate excess increases. When we are depressed and closed off, there is a higher chance of stagnation and gathering of excess into toxins.
This is why there can be no one method for detox, because the process is comprehensive and related to our entire diet, lifestyle and outlook. The body is constantly trying to create order, to clean, and renew itself. Healthy dietary and lifestyle habits contribute to a more efficient detox process.
I’ve found that the causes of many illnesses are from what we are unable to release. The 7 steps explained in “The Complete Macrobiotic Diet” are designed around the daily practices we can adopt for healthy nourishment and elimination. The combination of our food choices, eating habits (such as sitting down to eat and specific mealtimes), integrated life activity, and the body rub, detox occurs naturally with little to no forethought.
Detox can be aided through different types of internal and external home remedies. However, remedies must be combined with diet and lifestyle habits to be effective in the detox process. Detox remedies can not replace or substitute for good diet and lifestyle practices.
There is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all of the same. He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the whole estate. What Plato thought, he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man, he can understand.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote has recently been on my mind; it has a strong ring of truth in it. It is clear from much of Emerson’s work that he was able to connect with the common mind and experience of humanity. It stands to reason that we can apply the idea of one common mind to one common heart. The shift that we are currently experiencing shows us that empathy is growing in society.
We can see in the news everyday that there is more awareness in our culture for both the joys and sufferings of others. It has been recognized for some time, on an intellectual level, that our modern society is headed for trouble. Now, we are feeling the emotional aspects of these troubling truths whether in the realm of civil and human rights, animal rights, planetary health, or the connections being made between diet and overall health. What starts in the mind can develop into a feeling, and once feelings are experienced, our ability to act becomes much more natural.
We are all going into the future together for better or worse. Now is a time where we have the opportunity to engage our common mind with our common heart. Experiencing our common heart can enable us to work together and begin moving towards a brighter future for everyone.
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I invite you to take the MACRO leap.
Macrobiotics is not a fad diet; it is humanity’s original way of eating. Perhaps most importantly, macrobiotics is a lifestyle for everyone. The practice is all-inclusive because it is a constant journey of adding healthy, balanced practices into daily life. Practicing macrobiotics is flexible and adaptable to anywhere we happen to be.
This way of life is based on the dietary and lifestyle traditions of all of the world’s long-standing civilizations. These civilizations learned to create health and longevity through adapting to their climate and specific conditions. Each culture contributed to our global culture through its cuisine, history, arts, and sciences.
Our nutrition comes from plant-based foods either directly or indirectly. We receive second-hand and inferior nourishment from animals who have eaten these foods. Grains, beans, and vegetables enable us to make a direct connection to nature and the environment. Choosing local and indigenous foods makes the strongest and most direct connection to where we live. Grains, beans, and vegetables alone also provide enough food to feed and sustain a global population.
Macrobiotics is an empowering practice that awakens and deepens our confidence in our own ability to create and maintain lasting health. We can start immediately with just one meal, and expand and develop our practice over time. As we move in the direction of health, we experience a deeper connection with our own source of life and nature. We begin to move towards fuller physical and emotional well-being, and our fears and anxieties melt away.
The macrobiotic diet has many things in common across cultures, such as the cultivation of grains, beans and vegetables, as well as the natural preservation practices of pickling, fermenting, smoking, salting, and drying foods. Along with an appreciation of broader, universal patterns, there is also an appreciation of unique connections to locality. There is no one “Chinese food,” “French food,” or “Italian food,” but different regional cuisines that express a people’s harmonious relationship with a locality or region. Macrobiotic practice helps us to develop an orderly rhythm to life and a deep resonance with our unique circumstances.
Pickling and fermenting foods using traditional methods naturally preserves the foods. Secondly these methods enhance the taste and nutritional qualities of the food. This transforms the life of the food by inviting bacteria, microbes and oxygen to derive nourishment from the food and transform it into something new. The most unique and enjoyable foods and beverages in the world come from a simple principle of inviting life in. This is one of the core messages of macrobiotics: let life in.
From this, everyone can learn to make health-supporting choices, no matter the circumstance. The orderly practice of macrobiotics supports the transformation of healthy choices into healthy habits. Our health and environmental health are related. The environment is a direct reflection of our collective state of health. The macro leap embraces the outwardly spiraling journey towards health, for with health, there is life. Are you in for the macro leap?
I was happy to find an article in The New York Times that reinforces the importance of eating healthy meals at regular times. This is an issue I have been writing and teaching about for more than 20 years, so it is nice to see these ideas getting mainstream support. The article links the effects of eating late and consuming sweets, soft drinks, and fatty foods with acid reflux. According to the author of the article, Jamie A. Koufman, MD, acid reflux produces a variety of symptoms in addition to heartburn and indigestion. Postnasal drip, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, chronic throat clearing, coughing and asthma are often reported symptoms with patients dealing with acid reflux. I find it interesting that many of these symptoms are perceived as being unrelated to acid reflux, but according to Oriental medicine, they are related to digestive and kidney function. Dr. Koufman comments that there has been a significant rise in the number of people dealing with acid reflex in the last 30 years as our food choices and meal times deteriorate.
In our new edition of The Complete Macrobiotic Diet, we have provided clear guidance around the content and times for healthy meals. Our digestive system is only able to digest and process our food at certain times of the day, and these have become recognized as meal times around the world.
These are start times and the meal actually begins when you sit down at the dining table. We recommend that breakfast start anywhere between the hours of 5 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., and even possibly 9 a.m. Lunch should begin between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. And dinner should start between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
In addition to not eating three hours before bedtime, it is important to make lunch a regular, consistent practice. The midday meal is the one meal you do not want to miss. In today’s hectic world, it is important to take the time to share meals together. Meals are a time to return to balance and reconnect with family, friends and loved ones. Sharing food together is not only an expression of our appreciation for food and nature, but also for each other.
A number of my longtime clients are elderly women who have come to me with a variety of health concerns. I have counseled these women over many years regarding their diet and lifestyle practices according to macrobiotic principles. Some of these women have had serious falls where you would except them to break a bone, and surprisingly they have not. I attribute their strong bones and quick recovery to their macrobiotic practice. Even those of my clients that have experienced broken bones, have healed in about half the time expected. This would not be the case if they had osteoporosis.
In addition, my longtime observation is that children who were born and raised following the macrobiotic diet and lifestyle have stronger and thicker bones than their peers. This is something I have found to be true around the world. Both of these situations lead me to believe that there is not a problem with phytic acid and mineral absorption from the amount of grain we eat as part of our macrobiotic practice.
There is a general consensus that soaking grains is desirable for taste and digestibility; however there is not a general agreement on the best method for soaking grains. I found the information in the blog post from macrosano.com very interesting and helpful. I would like to inform you of the way we recommend soaking grains. Experiment and see which way you like best. The only way to really know is to try a specific way for weeks or months and try to see which method is more suitable. If you are not sure, you can always vary your soaking method.
This is our method for soaking and cooking rice. We recommend rinsing the rice in cold water two or three times. Measure out the water for cooking and soak overnight or longer, basically between 8-22 hours. Overnight soaking is more beneficial. When ready to cook the rice, add a pinch of sea salt or a half inch square piece of kombu and then boil or pressure cook as normal.
We’ve been soaking grains in this way for many years and feel very comfortable in it. Brown rice is the most sensitive food to our intentions, feelings and emotions; it is uniquely sensitive to our own condition. Taking time to properly prepare rice in this manner ensures a happy and satisfying meal. Soaking and cooking rice in this manner is not an afterthought; it is an act that conveys respect and appreciation.